I would like to have Oliver baptized.

Anyone who knows me at all may be somewhat shocked by that statement. My father sure was, the simple massing priest nearly choked on his dinner when I asked what I would have to do to have Oliver baptized.

It's not that I am particularly anti-religion, and I am certainly not anti-god, though I have been known to make statements to that effect for sheer shock value, and find great humor in making jokes at god's expense (with love though, really, please don’t smite me), I have no particular beef with god, any of the gods, or the majority of their followers.

More than anything I would say that my lack of defined religious affiliation comes from a kind of spiritual apathy more than anything else. I have no story of faith lost, or religious rebellion, I simply failed to find any interest in god or his worship.

There was certainly no pressure for me to do so despite the fact that my father is a priest and therefore, presumably, a religious and spiritual man of god.

My siblings and I were never to my recollection forced, or expected to attend any kind of Sunday school, or engage in regular prayer. But the option was always there.

When the time came my brother chose to be confirmed, I did not, and aside from a few gentle nudges from my father there was never any real issue taken with my decision.

The way I see it, my baptism was my parent's way of saying 'god, this is our daughter, who we intend to raise to be a moral and loving person. Daughter, should you choose to pursue a life of faith, we recommend you start here because we think this god is a pretty cool guy'.

By baptizing Oliver I wish to say 'god, while I do not lead an overly spiritual existence, and pay more inclined to study the Zen teachings of Buddha than I your holy gospel, I want you to meet my son whom I intend to raise as a moral and loving person, should he choose to be a spiritual man, please welcome him with open arms. Son, should you choose a path of faith, here is a pretty good place to start your journey.'

Das Piper isn't religious either. But he is 'not religious' in a very different way than I am. Where I am simply indifferent to religious practice, Das Piper has what I can only describe as distain for religion, spirituality, and god.

We have never talked about it in any detail, and I am sure he would deny/disagree with my premise here. But only someone who has been let down by faith and religion could hate it as much as he seams to.

This of coarse has lead to some friction on the subject of Oliver’s baptism.

While he would never forbid me from baptizing our son, it is fair to say that he really would prefer that I didn't. In an effort to keep the whole process from being something he may feel forced into I am going out of my way to keep him involved, and Das Piper is doing his best to have no involvement whatsoever. He has consented to have Oliver baptized, and agreed to show up to witness it happen, but beyond that it's been made clear that I will get nothing more.

This, of course, makes me wonder if I should even go through with it.

It's not like I am dead set on having him baptized, or think that his life would be lacking in any way if we chose not to.

Regardless of whether or not we do it, he will have some exposure to the church I am sure, and will have the option to join a church or religion on his own terms and in his own way. It's not like he will be banished from god's house never to be welcomed again if we don't baptize him, and even though most people are baptized as infants, there really isn't an age limit on it. He can just as easily be baptized at a later time if that's what he wanted to do.

What makes me so uneasy is that until this point, Das Piper and I have pretty much agreed on every parenting issue we've come across. We agreed that attachment parenting would be the best style for our family, we agreed that Oliver would not be circumcised, we agreed that we would introduce meat to his diet even though I don't eat it and let him become vegetarian on his own should he choose to, we agreed that he would get all of his vaccinations (though the chicken pox one is still up in the air), and we even agreed that Oliver and I would co sleep after it became apparent that it was the only way anyone would get any sleep around here.

But in this one area, an agreement can not be reached and that bothers me. He will give his consent because he knows that it's important to me, but I just can't seam to decide if that is enough.

Is it enough for me to have his permission, but not his support?

Is it really so important to me to baptize my son that I would do so even though the very idea of it makes his father, my partner, so uncomfortable?


Sylkozakur said...

Interesting post. We recently baptised our son, and mostly did so as a family celebration of his life. It's our way of saying welcome to the family, ours and God's. We are not really religious. My inlaws are, so it's very important to them.

Malcolm+ said...

Not really the place for us to talk this out in full, I suppose, so I'll limit my comments here.

You actually did get dragged off to Church for some years, and you don't seem the worse for it. During my period of being alienated from the Church, I think you actually went to Church more often with your mother than with your father the priest.

But once I got over my issues about Church, I never forced wither of you. That was partly tactical - forcing adolescents to go to Church is usually counterproductive in my own direct and indirect experience.

Of course, for the first several centuries, there were virtually no infant baptisms. People were baptised as adults - and for a time following the conversion of Constantine, even people who had committed themselves to the Christian faith would put off baptism due to some dubious theology about the effect of post-baptismal sin.

Initially, infant baptism was a concession to Christian parents, and really only became the de facto norm after Augustine upped the ante on the idea of Original Sin - leading eventually to the idea that unbaptised babies who die would be condemned to hell - or in a later and more merciful(?) idea, into Limbo. In theory, adult baptism is still the norm and infant baptism the exception even though the facts on the ground are the reverse.

I won't speculate on Das Piper's story, but you touch on an interesting thing that I recently stumbled across elsewhere on the interweb indicating that nearly 40% of "non-churchgoing" Americans don't attend Church - at least in part - because of past experiences of hurt, either by the institutional Church of by individual believers. Of course, that means 60% don't report such an experiece FWIW.

dk said...

Another option here is that Dp is providing as much support as he can, and mayhap you can accept that, it is your differences that make for a good parenting balance.

Compromise is a tough thing - but it seems to me you two are doing fairly well at it. You will NEVER agree on everything - or someone is not being truthful.

Viva le difference! Olly will alwyas have lots of options with you two around him ;)

Tori said...

So -- if you're going to delete comments from your mother you might want to tell her first and tell her why ...

Pocket.Buddha said...

Mom- I didn't get any comments on this post from you. You left your baptism comments on my Wordless wednesday post!

Tori said...